Former Celtic boss Neil Lennon wanted to sign Watford hero Troy Deeney

By Euan Davidson

June 22, 2021

Neil Lennon wanted to sign Troy Deeney for Celtic.

Lennon joined Deeney, Simon Jordan and Jim White on TalkSPORT this morning, and made some very interesting claims. Foremost of those, straight out the blocks, was that he wanted Deeney at Paradise during his first spell as Bhoys boss.

That would’ve been something, wouldn’t it?

Deeney ended up staying at Watford, of course. To date, the striker has played 417 times for the Hornets, scoring 140 times, with 47 of those strikes coming in the Premier League. His physicality, speed and finishing could’ve been a real boost for Celtic.

Pressed for an explanation, Lennon said [TalkSPORT]:

“I was a big fan of Troy in my first spell as manager. He was the type of striker that I liked. We went down to watch him in that very famous play-off game against Leicester, I was there that day. Knockaert missed that penalty, thirty seconds later, Troy’s putting Watford to Wembley!

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“Finances dictated everything, and whether Troy wanted to come is another thing. But we were huge admirers at the time.”

Troy Deeney at Celtic? It could’ve happened, according to Neil Lennon

Would Deeney have been a success at Celtic?

During Lennon’s first spell, a fox-in-the-box physical type was definitely in vogue. The combination of Samaras and Hooper were physically troubling for opposition defences at home and abroad, and it’s tantalising to imagine Deeney would’ve excelled just as Hooper did.

Gary Hooper: could Deeney have replaced him? / (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Of course, money would’ve been an issue. In 12-13, Deeney was arguably at his best. Massive moments aside [Watford FC], the Birmingham-born forward was prolific, finding the net 19 times. He went on to breach the 20-goal mark twice in successive seasons [Transfermarkt].

Would Watford have sold? Not cheaply, you can bet on that. Equally, he would’ve commanded more than decent wages in Hertfordshire, whereas Gary Hooper of Scunthorpe came with less fanfare and more reasonable wage demands from a Celtic point of view. However, given the timing, it looks as if Deeney could’ve been a Hooper replacement, after his departure in 2013 [BBC].

It’s interesting to think about though. Would Deeney have excelled in Green and White? It’s impossible to suggest he wouldn’t have.

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